$43 million funding allocated to future proof regional towns from water deficiencies
Seventy dams that have fallen into disuse across the grainbelt will be brought back into action and pipelines in the Great Southern replaced thanks to a $43 million State and Federal government funding boost.
The Shire of Lake Grace is one of the beneficiaries of the rollout, with upgrades planned for six unused dams.
Water Minister Dave Kelly visited Lake Grace last month to speak to Shire representatives about the projects, including the Lake Grace North Agricultural Dam and Burngup Railway dam.
“By funding these projects, we will increase the water storage capacity of many WA agricultural communities, and provide more reliable emergency agricultural and livestock water supplies for farmers to use during periods of dry conditions when on-farm supplies have been depleted,” Mr Kelly said.
Shire of Lake Grace president Len Armstrong said Mr Kelly was receptive to his council’s ambitions to “waterproof” the region.
“What we are looking at is long-term waterproofing the Shire of Lake Grace so that the agricultural industry can continue on during times of drought,” he said.
“We are mad keen to get as much water into our dams as we can.”
The Federal Government has agreed to fund $20m out of its National Water Grid Fund, while the State will provide the rest of the money.
It follows extensive lobbying by the State Government during the past year to get its $7.3m Agricultural Area Dams and Strategic Community Water Supplies project off the ground, after an almost $4m spend on carting emergency livestock water in the past two years.
Last month, the Federal Government agreed to foot half of the bill for the 70 dams, matching the State’s $3.65m contribution.
Dams in 36 local government areas in the Mid West, Great Southern and Wheatbelt will be cleaned and upgraded to provide additional water supply for growers, rather than ad hoc water carting.
The Federal Government also allocated a further $16.36m towards eliminating irrigation run-off in the Ord, a desalination trial in Esperance, replacing sections of pipeline between Kojonup and Katanning, upgrading the Jerramungup dam, and improvements to the Gascoyne Irrigation Scheme.
Mr Kelly learnt of the applications’ success last month and was able to deliver the good news to the shires and farmers on his trip through Gnowangerup and Lake Grace.
The funding comes as industry leaders urge farmers to plan for a low- rainfall future, with Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development land and water scientist Richard George telling delegates at last month’s Sheep Easy forum in Williams WA farmers were unprepared for the past three years of dry conditions.
While the funding was welcomed, Mr Kelly said the State was set to miss out on $1.54 billion of Federal water grants only made available to Murray-Darling States.
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